Despite Justin Trudeau’s exclamation that, through a partnership with Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs, the waterfront neighborhood could help turn the area into a “thriving hub for innovation”, questions immediately arose over how the new wired town would collect and protect data.
A year into the project, those questions have resurfaced following the resignation of a privacy expert, Dr Ann Cavoukian, who claimed she left her consulting role on the initiative to “send a strong statement” about the data privacy issues the project still faces.
Sidewalk Labs is only footing the bill for the first 12 acres in Quayside–and not even that, entirely. The company would pay for the construction of its buildings as any developer would. (It might then bring in another contractor, or perhaps even a nonprofit, we’re told by a spokesperson, to handle leasing.) But much of the concept is dependent upon all sorts of other infrastructural upgrades to areas like sewage, which could run $6 billion on their own. Sidewalk Labs is offering to foot this cost as a loan, but Toronto would have to pay the company back. Sidewalk Labs argues that the increased property taxes generated by this new development would be new money for Toronto, and could therefore be used to pay back the loan over many years without being an additional tax burden on the city.